42.6% of elementary schools, 61.6% of middle schools, and 55.9% of high schools have reported a strict school dress code, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Strict school dress codes can go from not being allowed to wear tight jeans, to certain schools not allowing black boys to have long dreadlocks, saying it’s “distracting”. Dress codes aren’t the only problem though, school uniforms are also bad. School uniforms impact students’ self expression, creating a dull environment. Not to mention that if a student isn’t wearing the uniform properly they get a suspension. Some schools even make girls wear skirts with no leggings in the winter. Dress codes are disproportionately forced against girls too. Like teachers making uncomfortable comments like “you’re asking for it” or “wear something less distracting next time”. Dress codes/uniforms also waste time in class since they have to be checked, making sure everything they wear is proper. So in the end, people are getting less learning time since they have to be checked and sent home.
The first dress code was created in 1969. It was due to students wearing black armbands to protest against the Vietnam war. The U.S supreme court ruled that schools can decide what students wear to school. Today, some schools have a requirement to wear only school colors, skirts only past knee level because it’s “distracting”, and seasonal clothing restrictions. Though these restrictions aren’t only in the U.S. “In the fall of 2004, the French government placed into effect new legislation banning the display of “conspicuous” religious symbols in state schools and hospitals. Thousands of Muslim girls are no longer allowed to wear their headscarves.”(Carleton.ca) In France, 2 7th grade girls got expelled for wearing headscarves because of this ban. This is extremely discriminatory towards Muslim girls and their culture. Now, their only options are to move to a place where hijabs are not banned, or decide to just not wear their hijabs to school, which is very unfair to them that they have to make that decision.
So what should we do about this? State legislatures need to look at the dress codes they have for students in that state, and ask themselves if it’s fair to students and how it will affect them. How will this impact the students I’m enforcing these dress codes on? Will school be a place where people will feel uncomfortable? Or a place where Students feel satisfied and comfortable with the dress code? Because since students are in school for an average 6 ½ hours, And for that 6 ½ hours, students should be able to be comfortable and have freedom in what they wear.